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How to Create a Watercolor Seascape Collage

How to Create a Watercolor Seascape Collage

Inspiration is everywhere and it is especially plentiful by the ocean. Today we will create a watercolor seascape collage. We will be creating a vibrant watercolor wash and then cutting it up to assemble a beautiful piece of art inspired by sea cliffs. This is a technique you can use over and over again, to commemorate trips or dream of warmer days. Let’s get started!

My name is Julie Malizia and I never get tired of sharing my love of the ocean or collages! Collages are such a fun and tactile way to create something beautiful. This is a low stress, unhurried project that really honors though beachy vibes.



How to make a watercolour collage


Want to watch the video tutorial?



Step 1: Paint a Textured Watercolor Wash of Brown, Orange and Yellow

How to paint a watercolor seascape

The first step in this easy process is to paint your watercolor wash on your 9 x 12 sheet. You will start at the top with Burnt Umber and just work your way down to the middle of the sheet, alternating Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre into the Burnt Umber. Be sure to vary the levels of saturation by using more paint in some places and more water in others.

Leaving a small gap under the brown tones, start painting the Indigo and Perylene Green wash on the bottom half of your watercolor paper. In a small corner on the edge of the paper, paint a little Yellow Ochre. This piece will be your sun!

How to paint a watercolor background

Allow the paint to do its thing to create blends, bleeds and blooms onto the sheet. Avoid any urge to create seamless blends, though. Trust the process!


Step 2: Paint a Cloudy Indigo Sky

How to paint a watercolor background

While your watercolor wash dries, you are going to paint the sky for your final piece. I trimmed down my second sheet of 9 x 12 watercolor paper to 8 x 8. You don’t have to use this exact size (if you’d prefer a 5 x 7, for example) but you’ll just want to make sure that this paper is smaller in size than the watercolor wash sheet.

Using a pencil, sketch out a few lines so you can see where you will place your sea cliff and where you will start your waves. Your sky should reach just short of about halfway down your paper.

Using clean water, paint a clear wash over the sky portion. Grab some Indigo paint with a very wet brush and paint across the very top of your sheet. Move the paper around to let the paint flow downward. Repeat this process until the sky is a beautiful, streaky light blue.

Next, grab your opaque white paint. I used white ink but you can use gouache, acrylic, watercolor, etc. Drop some clusters of white dots onto your wet Indigo sky and let the paint do the work. This is going to give a hint of a cloud without screaming “CLOUD!!” at you.

How to paint a watercolor beach


Allow both sheets to dry before moving on to the next step where we will put this whole thing together!


Step 3: Cut and Glue Shapes

How to make a paper collage

When constructing a collage, you are going to want to work back to front. I like to get all my pieces cut out before applying any glue. This way you can move things around and edit as necessary.

Starting with the brown section of your dry watercolor wash, cut out the shapes that you need to build a cliff. The edges should be left a little rough and rocky. Start at the “peak” and add about 5-6 rocky layers down into your water section. Feel free to play with different shapes for your land mass!

After you’ve settled on your sea cliff, move on to cutting out your waves. Cut smooth, even waves into the blue portion of your watercolor wash. About an inch or so below your wave edge, trim straight across. Repeat this pattern for the rest of the watercolor wash sheet.

Don’t forget to cut out a small circle out the yellow portion for your sun!

How to make a stunning collage


Working from back to front, glue your shapes on to your 8 x 8 sheet of paper. Trim your pieces as you go along to make sure they are overlapping properly and covering any hard edges or empty spaces. This part of a bit like putting together a puzzle.  Be patient with yourself (and your art).


Step 4: Trim the Edges


How to create a cut paper collage

Flip your piece over and trim off any excess pieces that are showing along the edges. If you are having trouble with your glue sticking, leave your piece upside down on your desk or table and put a heavy book on it for a few minutes. Works like a charm!

How to make a beach watercolor paper tutorial


You’re finished! I hope you enjoyed making this watercolor collage with me. Please tag me if you share your beautiful work on social media! I can’t wait to see what you create!



See all of Julie’s tutorials on the blog!

Julie is a self-taught, multidisciplinary artist living in California with her husband and three daughters. She is inspired by the beauty of the mundane and the chaos of motherhood. One of the greatest joys in life is sharing her art to help ignite the creative spark in others.



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